Catholic Institute in Kenya Hosts Youth Workers' Association, Encourages Professionalism

Participants during Youth Workers Association, Kenya (YWAK) Launch at Tangaza University College on Thursday, November 7, 2019

A Kenya-based Catholic Institution of higher learning under the auspices of dozens of religious orders and societies of Apostolic life, Tangaza University College (TUC) is hosting the Youth Workers Association, Kenya (YWAK), which was recently launched during the Commonwealth youth work week, encouraging professionalism on the part of those who minister among young people.

“Sometimes people work with the youths but they do not understand exactly the problems of the youths. When one is qualified, has a certificate and is a professional, even the youths take that person seriously,” the Chairman YWAK, George Kaggwa told ACI Africa in a telephone interview.

“We are encouraging Youth Workers Association to be a professional course not just an occupation,” Mr. Kaggwa who has worked in youth projects for over 30 years emphasized.  

Prior to the launch of the association, YWAK members carried out various activities through the media during the Commonwealth youth work week, which was celebrated across 53 member countries of Commonwealth from November 4 through November 10, 2019.

“During Commonwealth youth work week, we engaged various media (in Kenya) to create awareness on what the youth workers and volunteers do,” Mr. Kaggwa said and added, “We wanted the people to know the importance of professionalizing Youth Work Association in Kenya and also to explain to the people about the association.”


“So, we had talk shows about the skills young people require, life planning skills for the young and how to advise the youths on correct choices,” The lecturer at TUC and one of the founders of YWAK told ACI Africa. 

He described YWAK as “a relational profession built around the skills and competencies of engaging young people to enhance their self-esteem, youth work focuses on building human capital skills for social connectedness, productivity and employability” of the young people.

“The profession is meant to support young people in their journey to emotional and intellectual maturity within a caring and supportive environment as they strive to attain autonomy. The role of (working with youth) is therefore to ensure that the youth receive, as their right, quality youth services from trained professionals (working with young people),” Mr. Kaggwa recounted.

He added, “When adequately funded and with comprehensive training of the practitioners and the respective youth alike, (working with youth) can benefit not just the young people but the institutions and society in which they belong.”

According to the chairman, YWAK was established in 2014 at a youth symposium that was hosted by TUC's Institute of Youth Studies (IYS) but received its official registration in Kenya 2019. 

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The Association whose intention is to operate as a professional body aims to “Provide an opportunity for persons trained in youth work to interact and identify opportunities for personal development and career advancement,” reads in part a document sent to ACI Africa. 

The document further highlights that the association aims to “Provide information on training opportunities for persons interested in youth work, and to liaise with stakeholders to support and facilitate the development of the profession.

Besides, YWAK exists to “promote professional competence, standards and ethical practice in youth work, and to recognize, support and promote youth work as a professional practice.”

According to Mr. Kaggwa, “Kenya is among the just over a third of the Commonwealth countries where an Association of Youth Workers has been established.”

Because of its recognition, Mr. Kaggwa disclosed, “YWAK has gained the right of membership to the Commonwealth Alliance of Youth Workers’ Associations and is working together in articulating youth work and its practice standards. The Association is also looking forward to working closely with the State department of the youth in the country.”


According to the Kenya Youth Development Policy (KYDP) 2019, a youth worker “seeks to provide an opportunity for improving the quality of life for the youth in Kenya through their empowerment and participation in economic and democratic processes as well as in community and civic affairs.”